defenders of 'Western civilization' in the East?...
Conduct Walk Out in U.N. Council
By Evelyn Leopold (6-23-00)
- "Gagging people's
mouths is not the best way to discuss the acute
international problems in this way,'' [Russian UN
Ambassador] Lavrov said. "Even a defendant
has a right to defend his or her position.''
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters, Friday
June 23 3:02 PM ET ) - The Security Council took the
unusual step of excluding Yugoslavia's U.N. envoy from a
debate on the Balkans on Friday, prompting Russia's
ambassador to stage a demonstrative walk out.
"To discuss the Balkan
problem without Yugoslavia is nonsense,'' Ambassador
Sergei Lavrov said before leaving the chamber and placing
a junior envoy in the Russian seat.
China's envoy followed a few
minutes later during a speech by Javier Solana, the
European Union's foreign policy chief, presumably because
he headed NATO during its 11-week bombing of Serbia
during the Kosovo crisis last year.
China, however, participated in
the debate on the Balkans whereas no Russian diplomat
spoke after the controversy over Yugoslavia's presence.
U.S. ambassador Richard
Holbrooke led the challenge on grounds that the Yugoslav
leadership, including President Slobodan Milosevic, was
under indictment by a U.N. tribunal for alleged crimes
committed during last year's Kosovo crisis.
"It would be inappropriate
to allow the representative of this government to use
this council in a discussion of where we stand on
Kosovo,'' he said.
Yugoslavia's envoy Vladislav
Jovanovic has spoken to the council many times before on
Balkan issues, the last being one year ago shortly after
the indictments in May 1999.
Diplomats said he had tried to
since then but was prevented in private consultations.
One key council envoy said Friday's confrontation was
ordered by Milosevic.
Milosevic and four of his top
lieutenants were indicted as war criminals by the
Hague-based tribunal for crimes against humanity,
including murder, during the Kosovo conflict.
The indictments took place amid
last spring's NATO bombing raid against Serbia to force
Belgrade's troops out of Kosovo province where they were
killing and expelling in large numbers the country's
ethnic Albanian majority.
The vote on whether Jovanovic
should speak was four in favor, seven against with four
abstentions in the 15-member council. Under council
rules, procedural matters needs nine ''yes'' votes, with
permanent members, such as Russia, the United States,
Britain, China and France, unable to use their veto.
Voting in favor of Jovanovic
were Russia, China, Ukraine and Namibia; those against
were the United States, Britain, France, the Netherlands,
Bangladesh, Malaysia and Canada; abstaining were Mali,
Tunisia, Argentina and Jamaica.
Jovanovic told reporters the
action in the council was part ''of the aggressive policy
which the U.S. administration has been pursing against
Yugoslavia for years.''
He said that the seven votes
against him were from NATO members and two
"extremist'' Islamic countries, Bangladesh and
Malaysia, thereby constituting a "moral victory''
Lavrov told the council the
vote was against the spirit of the U.N. Charter which
allowed even a country that was not a U. N. member to
participate when it was a party to a conflict the council
"Gagging people's mouths
is not the best way to discuss the acute international
problems in this way,'' Lavrov said.
"A very dangerous
precedent has thus been created when states that are
unpalatable for political reasons are being isolated from
participation in the work of the United Nations,'' Lavrov
"Yugoslavia has a right to
participate. It is a country whose interests are directly
affected by this question,'' Lavrov told the council,
adding that the tribunal was a politically motivated.
"Even a defendant has a
right to defend his or her position,'' he said.
After the vote on Yugoslavia,
China's deputy ambassador, Shen Guofang, walked out of
the council during an address by Javier Solana, now the
secretary-general of a European Union council on a common
When he returned Shen mentioned
the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade,
which Washington says was due to bad maps. He also
reminded the council that every country had a right to
state its views. "This decision is a wrong
decision'' and "does not help a solution in the
Balkans,'' Shen said.
Solana was secretary-general of
NATO during its air campaign to force Belgrade to stop
repressing ethnic Albanians in Kosovo province, thousands
of whom were expelled..
Yugoslavia's membership of the
United Nations has been in dispute since 1992, when four
of its six constituent republics declared their
independence. It has been suspended from the U.N. General
Assembly until its status is cleared.